Ether Game

Edward Elgar’s “Caractacus” …and Ian Fleming?

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: Pomp and circumstance for the Roman age.

Edward Elgar’s works like the Pomp and Circumstance Marches (the first of which is heard at thousands of graduations each year) and the Enigma Variations are staples of the orchestral repetory.

He was lesser known for his choral works and cantatas, like Caractacus. This character was an ancient British chieftain who led a resistance movement against the Romans. Think Braveheart, but in the first century BCE.

Caractacus’s resistance was ultimately defeated, and he was taken to Rome, presumably to be paraded and then executed. But that’s not the end of his story.

He was a silver-tongued Briton and convinced the Roman senate that he made them look all the better by offering a strong resistance which they ultimately defeated. He made such an impression that he was released and lived out his life in peace in Rome.

“But what does this have to do with Ian Fleming,” you might ask? The author of the James Bond novels must have known his British history, because he gave the name to the patriarch of the Potts family in his only children’s book, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” Caractacus Potts.

Music Heard On This Episode

Edward Elgar: Caractacus: Triumphal March
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Yehudi Menuhin, cond. — Elgar: Pomp & Circumstance Marches / Cockaigne Overture (Virgin Records Us, 1992)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Edward Elgar: Caractacus: Triumphal March
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Yehudi Menuhin, cond. — Elgar: Pomp & Circumstance Marches / Cockaigne Overture (Virgin Records Us, 1992)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover

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